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Opening Arguments

Unsafe at barely any speed

Fort Wayne is trying to become more bike-friendly, doing things like putting bike lanes and bike racks downtown. That seems like a good idea even to an internal-combustion-loving dinosaur like me, a way to make the city seem more accessible and less threatening. But some see bikes as a menace, in large part because so many riders don't think the traffic laws apply to them. And bicycles do occupy a gray area, because traffic laws generally were designed without bikes in mind.

And there is not even an agreement among bicycle advocates about how to handle the great car-bike controversy (article from Slate via Hit & Run):

Today's cycling activists generally split into two groups: "vehicularists" and "facilitators." Proponents of "vehicular cycling" believe bikes should act as cars: occupy full lanes, stop at red lights, use a hand signal at least 100 feet ahead of a turn. That's the best way to make cars—and policymakers—aware of bicycles and to respect them as equals on the road. When it comes to making roads safe for bikes, vehicularists tend to favor training, education (most cities offer bike safety classes), and enforcement. Cyclists should not grouse about moving violations, the vehicularists argue. It is a sign that they're being treated as equals.

Facilitators, meanwhile, say we should change the laws and the environment to recognize the innate differences between bikes and cars. That means special facilities like bike lanes, bike paths (elevated trails separate from the road), and even Copenhagen-style traffic lights for bikes. It would also mean changing car-centric laws that don't make sense for bikes, like the rule that says you need to come to a complete stop at a stop sign.

I'd say that's what the logicians call a false dichotomy. We can both insist on bike riders obeying the law and car drivers respecting their presence and make a concession or two (such as bike lanes where appropriate) to the reality that cars are a lot bigger and faster.


Bob G.
Wed, 10/21/2009 - 11:12am

...And those nasty cars tend to leave LARGER MARKS!

Maybe those pundits have been dipping into all that "medical marijuana" to find such a "perfect world" where everyone respects everyone else and obeys all the laws...
(does make a good case for legalizing the crap, though...AND for Sunday alcohol sales...LOL)

Wed, 10/21/2009 - 7:18pm

With the flat, wide roads, one would think Fort Wayne would be a bicyclist's paradise. Not so. I wouldn't ride here for the world. It's true that cyclists often disobey traffic rules, but they generally only endanger themselves. Car drivers, on the other hand, are a genuine menace to bicycles. Cyclists are generally expected to use the road, not the sidewalk, but they do so at their own peril. Angry drivers seem to resent the two-wheelers, and seem to enjoy running them off the road. Give me a motorcycle any time. At least I can outrun the four-wheelers.